WKU Professor plays a role in a pilot expungement program for former felons

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 7:57 AM CDT
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A WKU professor is playing a big role in a pilot program that helps former felons get through the expungement process and get on with their lives.

Amy Bingham explains in this week’s View from the Hill.

“It was my first arrest, never been in trouble. I had a boyfriend that was addicted to oxycontin.”

This is Timi-Michelle Tolhurst, who’s been haunted by that arrest that led to two felony drug charges for a decade.

“With that mistake, here I am nine years later still having to pay for that price.”

Not anymore. Tolhurst recently became the first participant to complete the expungement process from start to finish receiving a check from her employer, Hardin Memorial Health.

“The program is designed for employers to assist employees with the expungement process and the associated cost with removing class D felony from the record.”

WKU sociology professor Dr. Donielle Lovell is part of the task force with the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. She says Timi was not her first student to come to her with this issue.

“I have students that come to me all the time and say I want a degree in sociology, I want to help people, I want to work with people that have the same kind of experience I’ve had, but I’ve got this felony on my background.”

Now Timi, who received her sociology degree at WKU in 2016, is looking forward to having a clean slate.

“Last week I had a background check run and it came back clean for the first time in ten years and that was pretty exciting to see that.”

Dr. Lovell says the pilot program will be pitched to other businesses and manufacturers in the fall.

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